30 Nov 2021 | Feature stories |
Ogilvy, Griffin back where it all began
by Dane Heverin
US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and 7-time professional winner Matthew Griffin have shared their support for public golf as they returned to their junior club, Cheltenham Golf Club, on Monday afternoon.
The nine-hole public course in the heart of Melbourne’s Sandbelt hosted the latest edition of ‘The Game by the Geoff Ogilvy Foundation’ and the narrow layout tested the skills of Ogilvy, Griffin, Mike Clayton and up-and-coming professionals Elvis Smylie and Bryden Macpherson, and amateur Andre Lautee.
A strong crowd turned out to walk the course with their homegrown heroes as Ogilvy and Griffin had family members in tow, and mixed with former Beaumaris North Primary classmates, junior teammates and golf fans.
Local dog walkers were shocked to see roughly a hundred people watching on, while four green fee paying players in the group behind were trying even harder than usual to hit the ball straight off the tee.
“Cheltenham is a great one because it has membership and public access, and when you’re out there playing you’ve got people walking their dogs in the afternoon. It’s a park, it’s green space,” Ogilvy said.
“I guess the theory is that if it wasn’t a golf course it would be a park, but it wouldn’t be. It would be houses or condos or warehouses or something. To preserve this much green space, especially in this area with Sandy and Cheltenham, is just amazing. What a value add for the community.”
Griffin shared similar sentiment and emphasised the need to protect the public game.
“I doubt I would be a golfer without public golf,” he said.
“I grew up probably a kilometre from here and started playing at Sandy, Cheltenham, Moorabbin - which is no longer - and Elsternwick which is also no longer. If we keep losing them, we’re guaranteed to lose golfers to the game.”
Public golf allowed Griffin and Ogilvy to unearth their talent during their adolescence - Ogilvy won Cheltenham’s B grade club championship in 1990 as a 13-year-old, while Griffin won A and B grade club championships at Cheltenham - through practice and playing competitively.
“This was my house for the first three or four years of golf,” Ogilvy said.
He would ride his bike to the course as soon as the school bell rang and Griffin followed suit a few years later.
“I played lots of putting comps and chipping comps here over the years,” he said.
“It’s always been a place close to my heart. The club’s always been a big supporter of mine. Two of my caddies that have caddied for me in Australia have been members here.”
Griffin gets back to Cheltenham to play a round a few times a year, and he paired up with local player Joel Harrod to get the better of Ogilvy and Commonwealth’s Alexandria Hillard in yesterday’s match.
The crowd erupted when Griffin holed-out for eagle on the par-5 7th, but some were equally pleased to see the course bite back when his birdie putt on the 8th green caught a downhill slope and trickled off the front of the green.
“I’ve played here so many times before, but I’ve never done that,” Griffin said with a laugh.
The day belonged to young professional Darcy Brereton who shot the round of the day with a one-under par 34.
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